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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Neil deGrasse Tyson tried to "Well, actually" Arrival and it didn't work

Illustration for article titled Neil deGrasse Tyson tried to "Well, actually" Arrival and it didn't work
Photo: Neil deGrasse Tyson (Amy Sussman/Getty Images); Arrival (Paramount Pictures

When not aggressively branding himself as humanity’s sole gatekeeper to the universe’s cosmic wonders (or being repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct), MIT astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, also has this talent for being the social media equivalent of that guy at the party telling you everything wrong in whatever movie you recently enjoyed. It’s a lot of fun, and everyone enjoys it.

Knowing this, it’s our sincerest disappointment to report that Tyson got summarily shut the hell down after trying to nitpick one of the greatest sci-fi films of the past decade, if not ever — Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. Based on Ted Chiang’s novella, “Story of Your Life,” Arrival is widely considered a beautiful, simultaneously hopeful and melancholy meditation on time, language, and human connection. Tyson, however, apparently considered it an okay-ish movie about linguists who aren’t as smart as he is because they don’t know how mirrors work. Or something.


Got ‘em, Neil...is what we would say if he was anywhere approaching correct on this one. As it turns out, if he paid attention to the movie for, like, ten more minutes instead of furiously whipping out his phone and cackling at his newest zinger, he would have noticed that this “point” is summarily addressed by Jeremy Renner’s character, Ian Donnelly.

What’s more, Neil’s Newest Nitpick seems to completely miss the whole point of the damn movie, which is [SPOILER] time, language, and our experiences therein are not necessarily linear. So, y’know, mirrored reflections are a moot point here.


Anyway, we’re eagerly awaiting Tyson’s thoughts about the improbability of the spice melange inducing telepathic, extrasensory perceptions within the Fremen community of Arrakis in Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune adaptation. That’ll be so much fun to hear.

Andrew Paul is a contributing writer with work recently featured by NBC Think, GQ, Slate, Rolling Stone, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He writes the newsletter, (((Echo Chamber))).

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